Glittering waters, sunlit skies and consistent breeze created the perfect Caribbean backdrop for the stacked competition that took to the starting line for day one of racing at Les Voiles de St. Barth.
The 65 boats, split into nine classes, were sent on coastal courses, ranging from 24 to 31 nautical miles, tracing the western and northern coast of the island, all starting and finishing in the port of Gustavia in St. Barth.
“It was a beautiful day of sailing,” said Ian Walker, tactician aboard SW 94 Windfall, which took the win today in the Maxi 2 class. The team has come back to Les Voiles de St. Barth this year on mission after having to retire from racing at the 2016 edition due to its mast breaking during practice. “We had about 17 knots at the most and 10 knots at the least and you couldn’t have ask for better sailing. It was quite a long and interesting course with lots of legs, lots of mark roundings and lots of work for the crew.”
Walker added that the team had some good battles with Sir Peter Harrison’s Sojana as well as Andries Verder and Arco van Nieuwland’s Aragon, which took the second place position for the day, less than two minutes behind Windfall on corrected time.
“We have very competitive, comparable and well sailed boats in the Maxi 2 Class,” said Verder who shares the helm with van Nieuwland and marks this year as their third time competing at Les Voiles de St. Barth.
“We did very well,” added van Nieuwlan. “Everything apart from some small details went really smooth. Andries was on fire going upwind. We practiced almost the same course yesterday so we could do it with our eyes closed.”
George Sakellaris’ Proteus, Peter Corr’s Blitz and Frits Bus’ Team Island Water World are still defending their 2016 class wins after today’s racing in Maxi 1, Melges 24 and CSA 3 respectively.
However, event newcomers, Jordan and Shannon Mindich’s J/105 Solstice shook up the competition in CSA 4, taking the lead after day one from last year’s class winners Credit Mutuel. “We felt pretty good about our general speed and performance,” said Nicole Breault, a USA Women’s Match Race Champion, who calls the tactics onboard Solstice.
“This is my first time here and it’s spectacular, warm and really beautiful. I’m not that familiar with sailing on handicap, so we’re trying to sail like there are no other boats out there and just keep the boat going.”
The decks were also shuffled in CSA 2 with Ian Hope-Ross’ Kick’ em Jenny 2 pulling ahead of 2016 winnerSergio Sagramoso’s Lazy Dog and in the Multihull Class with Robert Janecki’s R-SIX holding the first place position over Richard Wooldridge and Steve Davis’ Triple Jack.
Day two of racing is set for tomorrow, Wednesday April 12 followed by a scheduled “Day off on Thursday, April 13 and two more days of racing Friday, April 14 and Saturday, April 15.
by Barby MacGowan